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Relocating to Flanders, expat hotspot in Europe, in just 3 steps

Are you considering living and working in Flanders? That’s no surprise! Luckily, relocating to Belgium and Flanders is a straightforward procedure. Get the practical details below. 

Step 1 – Get your work or single permit

To work in Belgium and Flanders, citizens of countries outside the EEA and Switzerland must apply for one of the following permits: 

  • a work permit B (for short stays);
  • a single permit (for long stays);
  • a professional card (for self-employed people).

Single permit: for long stays (longer than 90 days)

Long-stay employees of companies in Belgium and Flanders can obtain a combined work and residence permit, called the ‘single permit’. Greatly simplifying the application procedure, this type of permit:

  • is granted to non-EU nationals to reside and work in Belgium for over 90 days; 
  • is valid for a maximum of 3 years; 
  • takes approximately 9 weeks to obtain;
  • comes with a lighter administrative burden and zero in-person meetings;
  • is renewable (a new application must be made 2 months before the expiry date). 

How does the application procedure work? 

The employer needs to initiate the application procedure, collect the required documents (or copies of said documents) and apply for a single permit with a fixed term via the dedicated ‘Working in Belgium’ service. The required documents include:

  • documents relating to the employee’s residence and proof of identity; 
  • the employment contract; 
  • proof of the employer’s identity; 
  • documents relating to secondment employment (if applicable);
  • supplementary materials depending on employee category. 

Get all the practical details about the requirements.

How does the renewal procedure work? 

To renew a single permit, you’ll need to submit an application to the Economic Migration Department via the dedicated ‘Working in Belgium’ service. Be sure to do this at least 2 months (4 and half months at most) before the expiry date of your existing single permit. Various documents (or copies of said documents) need to be added as well: from identity cards, residence permits and employment contracts to pay slips or wage statements, etc.

Get the complete list here.

Work permit B: for short stays (under 90 days)

As single permits are only available for employment periods of more than 90 days, applying for a so-called ‘work permit B’ is still required in case a non-EU national is to be hired for shorter periods. 

Professional card (for self-employed people)

Are you a citizen of another country that’s not an EEA nation or Switzerland? And do you want to start a self-employed business in Belgium and Flanders? In this case, obtaining a professional card is a must. This card is valid for a minimum of 1 year and maximum of 5 years and can be renewed. 

To obtain your professional card, file an application at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your country of residence as well as at the enterprise counter of your choice in your place of residence in Belgium. This enterprise counter is responsible for registering businesses at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises, which contains operational information on all Belgian firms.

Step 2 – Apply for a long-term visa (Type D)

To enter Belgium and its northern region Flanders once you have your work permit B in hand, you will need a long-term visa (Type D). To obtain one, apply for it at the embassy or consul in your place of residence abroad. After you receive the go-ahead, you’ll have to pick up your visa in person. 

In case you applied for a single permit and your application was approved, then the accompanying Type D visa will be delivered automatically upon request.

Once you arrive in Belgium, obtain your Belgian Electronic ID card in the city of your residence.

Step 3 – Sign up with a national insurance scheme

As an expat working in Belgium and Flanders, you must be able to prove that you are insured with one of the many national insurance organizations available. Present proof of employment in Belgium to the organization of your choice to obtain coverage.

Interested in doing business in Flanders?

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